'Few Cumbrian farms would make a profit without subsidies'
Last updated at 15:02, Friday, 01 February 2013
The scrapping of farm payments could lead to many Cumbrian producers going out of business.
Union officials said direct payments were a “lifeline” to those farmers on the brink after a nightmare year.
A spokesman for NFU north west said: “These subsidies are massively important to farmers’ businesses.
“The majority would not turn a profit without them. How long could they keep going without making any money?”
Farmers already counting the cost of this year’s wet weather are fearful of Defra’s views on Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reform, more details on which are poised to be released.
NFU president Peter Kendall said he “took exception” to a Defra official’s description of the Single Farm Payment as “worthless”.
In a national magazine, Mr Kendall said: “We seem to be back to the Treasury line that getting rid of the Single Farm Payment as soon as possible is Government policy at a time when farm accounts would be printed in heavy red ink if it was not for the lifeline that comes from the current CAP.”
Just this week, MEPs controversially agreed to allow the recoupling of CAP payments to production. They supported moves to beef up intervention to bolster the market for farm goods.
“Farmers provide exceptional value for money. We need to have a level playing field with other EU member states,” said the NFU spokesman.
The full EU Parliament will not finally sign off its position until March.
Parliamentary negotiators will then enter talks with the EU Council of Ministers, chaired by the Irish presidency of the EU, with the intention of reaching a final agreement on a new CAP by the end of June.
The union spokesman said many producers were at their wits’ end dealing with the bad weather, cost of feed and the price of lambs dramatically falling.
Liver fluke disease has been wreaking havoc in many of the county’s sheep flocks. And producers are praying they will not be hit hard by the dreaded Schmallenberg virus.
“Farmers in the county have a lot to worry about and perhaps are not worrying about the CAP reform as much as they would normally have done,” added the union spokesman.
Figures reveal that in 1991 the country was 75 per cent self-sufficient in food. Today, the figure stands at just 60 per cent.
“Our annual conference at the end of February looks timely,” added Mr Kendall.
First published at 14:35, Friday, 01 February 2013
Published by http://www.cumberlandnews.co.uk
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